19 December 2012 - New York - UNITAID has provided TB Alliance with a three-year grant to accelerate the development of pediatric tuberculosis (TB) regimens.
Each year half a million children become ill with TB and 64 000 die from the disease. However there are currently no TB drugs that are specially formulated for children.
"Despite the urgent need for child-friendly TB formulations, market barriers to innovation remain a challenge," said Dr Philippe Douste-Blazy, Chair of the UNITAID Executive Board. "By providing this grant UNITAID will help forge a healthy, dynamic, and sustainable market for quality-assured pediatric TB medicines."
UNITAID’s grant provides TB Alliance, which spearheads the Stop TB Partnership’s Working Group on New Drug, with up to US $16.7 million to facilitate the development and adoption of TB medicines for children. The US Agency for International Development will also leverage additional resources to contribute to the initiative.
"This is an opportunity to address a long neglected need," said Dr Mel Spigelman, President and CEO, TB Alliance. "We can now - in a very rapid way - improve the state of children’s TB treatment by reformulating today’s available drugs. Simultaneously, we will also work to dramatically reduce the timeline needed to introduce pediatric formulations of the shorter, simpler, and faster TB regimens now advancing through the pipeline."
TB Alliance, with partners, will encourage manufacturers and other stakeholders to address a range of scientific, regulatory, access, and market challenges relevant to TB in children. "There are tremendous gaps in the pediatric TB medicine market, and providers today have poor options to help children suffering from tuberculosis," said Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of the Stop TB Department, WHO. "As a partner and collaborator on this grant, we will address those gaps and do all we can to improve treatment for children in need. We want zero TB deaths and suffering in children."